Thursday, November 23, 2017

Being Thankful~Happy Thanksgiving!

May God bless each one of you today as you spend time with family and friends.  May we take time to reflect on all His goodness, grace and mercy.  And remember to be thankful not just on Thanksgiving Day, but each day we are blessed to wake up and enjoy everything He has given to and provided for us.

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am thankful for each and every one of you.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Slow Cooker Meal~Chicken Enchilada Soup (Paleo, Whole30, Dairy-free)

I had planned to post the recipe for this tomorrow, but so many of you have already requested it via Instagram, so tonight it is (only after tasting it of course ;-)

It was a rainy morning here in Atlanta, so slow cooked soup sounded really good.  It was already on the meal plan...good timing!  And no, I do not meal plan around the weather reports. When have they ever been accurate? snowpocalypse2014 wish I'd had soup then

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Y'all it doesn't get easier than this.  If you can chop, measure and've got this!

Original recipe can be found here.


1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (we used two chicken breasts equal weight, who has time for bones?)
1 can fire roasted crushed tomatoes (14.5 oz can)
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups bone broth (we used chicken)
1/2 cup water
1 TBS cumin
1 TBS chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (regular works just fine)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

For garnish:

1 avocado (optional, we omitted as they are a migraine trigger for our youngest)
fresh cilantro (we used dried we had on hand)


1. Add all of the ingredients in order to your slow cooker, except the garnish.

2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, on high for 3 hours.  Once done, remove chicken to a plate and  use two forks to shred the chicken, return to the slow cooker and stir.

3. Ladle into bowls and serve with garnish.


While we followed the directions and sliced the onion and bell pepper, I would chop next time for ease of eating.  Also, if you don't like too much heat you can cut the cumin, chili powder and paprika in half and still have plenty of flavor.

And I will leave you with this...

What is the difference between a crockpot and a slow cooker?

A crockpot uses a ceramic pot while a slow cooker uses a metal pot.

And now you are prepared to participate on Jeopardy!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dishes for a Crowd~What's for Dinner Weekend Addition

Hello friends, and happy Friday!  It's a bit overcast at the moment here, and the temperatures have cooled off a bit.  I'll take it.

Today I thought I'd share two new to us recipes that will feed a hungry crowd.  And if not feeding a crowd, great for leftovers so you don't need to think about lunch the next day.

The first is a hearty fall soup made in the crockpot. Super simple.  While I say soup, it really is more like a chili in consistency.  Very filling.

Homemade Minestrone Soup (Slow Cooker)


2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
2 TBS tomato paste
1/4 C sun-dried tomato pesto (we used Stonewall Kitchen brand-it does contain a small amount of dairy, so omit for those with true dairy allergy, ours are sensitivities)
1 parmesan rind (again, omit for dairy allergy, we did not include)
4 Cups vegetable stock (gluten free)
2 Cups water
1 C carrots, diced
1 1/4 C celery, diced
1 1/2 C white onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 sprig rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 can (15oz) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (we omitted and just double the northern beans due to food sensitivities)
1 can (15oz) great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups zucchini, diced
1 1/2 cups tubular pasta (we used gluten free elbow noodles we had on hand)
1 cup frozen green beans, thawed
2 1/2 cups baby spinach, chopped
Finely shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese, for serving (omit for dairy free, or use vegan)


1. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato pesto, parmesan rind, vegetable stock, water, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves to a slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook on low heat 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.

2. Add in red kidney beans, great northern beans, zucchini, and pasta and cook on high for an additional 20-25 minutes until pasta is tender. Stir in the spinach and green beans and cook for an additional 5 minutes until heated through.  Serve warm topped with the parmesan cheese and garlic toast (optional).

The original recipe can be found here.

This next recipe is also a crowd pleaser, and kid friendly too.

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake


12 ounces Penne Ziti (or any pasta shape) *we used Tinkyada gluten free penne
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 2 chicken breasts) *we used a rotisserie chicken
1 (25 oz) jar Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce (brand of choice)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese *we used So Delicious brand dairy free
1/3 C freshly-grated Parmesan cheese *we used Go Veggie brand vegan
1/4 C packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of generously salted water, boiling according to package instructions. Drain and return pasta to the stockpot and add chicken and tomato sauce. Gently toss to combine until the pasta is evenly coated.

3. Pour half of the pasta into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup mozzarella cheese, half the Parmesan cheese and half of the basil.  Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and sprinkle immediately with the remaining Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve warm.

Original recipe can be found here.

I get asked a lot about how I go about meal planning for the week.  I am working on putting together a post(s) where I will share how I find new recipes to try alongside some old favorites, rotating proteins, grocery shopping (creating a list) and stocking a pantry. I will also try to share some of our favorite gluten free and dairy free brands and products with you.

It's not something that magically happens over night.  It takes time, planning and a whole lot of trial and error. 

Have a Blessed Weekend Friends!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Shrimp Pad Thai and a new cookbook, The Organic Heart~

Hello friends!

First, thank you again to all who have emailed, left sweet comments here or on my Insta feed regarding our sweet pup who recently had emergency surgery. I am happy to report he is on the mend and doing remarkably well.  Even his surgeon was a bit surprised by how well he is doing given the extent of the surgery. And, if you are in the Atlanta area or a bit further north (Gainesville area) and ever find yourself in need of someone in a pet emergency, please reach out to me.  Dr. Brown and his staff are excellent, but more importantly compassionate toward both the pet and the pet's owners. We are so grateful to the entire team.

I shared a picture of this recipe on Instagram over a week ago, and had promised to post it here prior to all that took place with our pup.  It is too good not to share, and it comes from a new to us cookbook that I know we will love and enjoy for many months to come.

The recipe comes from Breeana Pooler's new cookbook, The Organic Heart, a Gluten- Free, Dairy-Free, Clean Food Cookbook.  I love the story behind the creation of the cookbook. 

At age 26 (yes just 26), Breeana's husband Jason was suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with severe heart failure.  Following his diagnosis, Breeana set out to regain his health. She succeeded in doing so by completely changing their diets.  Yes, their diets!  I know y'all have heard the old saying, "you are what you eat."  I personally think there is so much truth to it.  After a year, her precious husband not only did NOT need a heart transplant, but was healthier than he had ever been in his entire life.

You can follow Breeana on Instagram @the_organic_heart and her food blog.

Most of you know that while we have been gluten free for quite some time now, the dairy free came in to play a year ago. 

When we mention to people that we are gluten, dairy, soy and mostly nut free (among other food sensitivities that vary by family member), the usual response is, "What DO y'all eat".  Then when they start following along on either the blog or my Instagram account, I get "Would you come cook for me?" LOL  While we are eating healthier than ever before, we are also enjoying our food so much more.

Give this one a try!

Shrimp Pad Thai (Gluten Free and Dairy Free-2-3 servings)

Pad Thai Sauce:

1/4 C lime juice
1/4 C coconut aminos (replaces soy sauce in recipes)
2 TBS honey
1 TBS coconut oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

6 ounces brown rice pad-Thai noodles (we found them at Whole Foods)
10 large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 TBS coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 C green onions, roughly chopped
2 eggs, whisked

Serve with:
1 C mung bean sprouts
1/2 C cilantro, roughly chopped
Crushed peanuts, as desired
Plenty of lime wedges
Chili sauce, as desired

1. In a bowl, mix together all sauce ingredients and set aside.

2. Fill a large bowl with warm water and soak the pad Thai noodles 10-15 minutes, or as directed on the package.

3. In a large skillet or wok, sauté  the shrimp in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil with the garlic, ginger, and green onions for a few minutes until the shrimp is pink and cooked. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Add the whisked eggs to the same skillet and sauté until cooked. Remove the eggs from the skillet and set aside.

4. Turn the heat up on the skillet and add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Drain the soaked rice noodles (they should feel soft, not firm) and add the rice noodles to the hot skillet., frying them in the oil about 30 seconds.  Now add the shrimp mixture, eggs, and Pad Thai sauce to the skillet, and combine everything well.  Once the sauce is nearly absorbed, turn the heat off and transfer the noodles to a large plate.  Top the pad-Thai with the mung bean sprouts, cilantro, crushed peanuts, and drizzle the noodles with plenty of lime juice.  Serve with chili sauce for added heat.


Our daughter has a sensitivity to eggs, but can have them occasionally. I feel you can omit them all together if necessary (we make fried rice quite often without them).

We also served all the optional toppings on the side.

Breeana's cookbook is not only packed with easy to prepare delicious meals, it is chock full of information including how to stock a Gluten and Dairy Free Kitchen and Pantry. And, I just loved reading their story.

I highly recommend this cookbook to anyone who is either embarking on a Gluten and Dairy Free journey or has been on one for awhile already.

***I am in no way being compensated for this post. All opinions are that of my own. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

Happy Wednesday friends.  Been a busy and crazy week for us thus far. One of our sweet pups had to have emergency surgery Monday evening.  He decided to eat his bandage we had put on his front leg to keep a hot spot clean and dry last week and it got stuck. No fun!! He did great through the surgery and is recovering, but it will take time.  We are praying today is the last day at the vet, and he can come home to finish his recovery as we have been having to drive him between his ER doc and regular vet each day (one keeps him at night the other during the daytime hours).

I posted a pic of this recipe last night on Instagram.  I have to give our #2 credit for making it while we were making one of our many trips home from our pup's ER doc's office. She said it was really easy to put together.  So many requested the recipe after seeing it, so here ya go.

Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

(original recipe can be found here)


1 LB ground beef (we use 90/10 grass fed)
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 (15 oz can) no-salt-added tomato sauce
1/4 C ketchup
2 TBS tomato paste
1 TBS yellow mustard
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (2 pound package) frozen tater tots (Ore Ida's are gluten free)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Using a large 12-13 inch oven safe skillet or sauté pan, brown the ground beef with the onions and the bell pepper over medium high heat until the meat is fully cooked and crumbly, about 10 minutes.  Add all of the remaining ingredients except the tater tots and stir well to combine.
3. Arrange the tater tots in a single layer on top of the sloppy joe mixture in the pan.  Cook uncovered in preheated oven until the tater tots are cooked through and golden brown, 25-30 minutes (she set the broiler for just a couple minutes in the end to get them crispy, be sure to keep an eye on them so they don't burn).
4. Serve hot and enjoy!

Y'all it was delicious. Another one pan meal that is great for those busy week nights.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Happy 24th Birthday Baby Girl~

Celebrating this gem today. 

You have and continue to be a blessing to all who know you and come in contact with you.  Your smile lights up a room.  Your patients are lucky to have someone so devoted to her career and to their care. 

Praying you have a wonderful day cheering on your fav team.   Go vols!!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Finger-Licking Good Fried Chicken~

Happy Saturday!

I had a few requests for this recipe on Instagram, so I thought I'd post it here.  This is not a new to us recipe.  I originally posted it back in 2014.  The recipe comes from Ina Garten's cookbook, Family Style.

In my original post, we had adapted the recipe to be gluten free only (just sub gluten free flour).  This time around however we had to omit the dairy (buttermilk).  Turns out this is easy peasy.

To make 1 Cup of dairy free buttermilk sub one of the following:

1 cup almond milk with 1 TBS white vinegar

1 cup soy milk with 1 TBS white vinegar

1 cup coconut milk with 1 TBS white vinegar

Since we do not consume either almond nor soy milk (due to sensitivities), we used coconut.

The recipe calls for 1 quart buttermilk, so 4 cups of your choice of dairy free milk and 4 Tablespoons white vinegar. Whisk together.

Of course if you have no allergy concerns, you can certainly make the original recipe.

The recipe can be found here.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Soups On~Stuffed Pepper Soup

Well, good Friday morning my friends. Today I thought I'd pop in with a new to us, yummy fall soup recipe.  If you love traditional stuffed peppers like we do, this will quickly become a favorite for the next few months. And, it's even better the second day.

Stuffed Pepper Soup (original recipe found on Cooking Classy.


1 lb lean ground beef (we prefer grass fed)
2 TBS olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (we use white)
1 small yellow onion chopped (1 cup)
3/4 C chopped red bell pepper (a little over 1/2 of a medium)
3/4 C chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves, garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can beef broth (use use Pacific brand that comes in a box)
2 1/2 TBS chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish (optional)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 C uncooked long grain white or brown rice (whichever you prefer)
Cheddar or mozzarella cheese, for serving (optional, we chose not to add)


In a large pot heat 1 TBS olive oil over medium heat (we love our Staub dutch oven for this). Once hot add beef to pot and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally while breaking up beef, until browned.  Drain beef and pour onto a plate lined with paper towels, set aside.

Heat remaining 1 TBS olive oil in pot then add onions,  red bell pepper, green bell pepper and saute 3 minutes, then add garlic and sauté 30 seconds longer. Pour in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth and add parsley, basil, oregano and cooked beef,  then season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring just to a light boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

While soup simmers, prepare rice according to directions listed on package, then once soup is done simmering stir in desired amount of cooked rice*.  Serve warm topped with optional cheese and garnish with fresh parsley.

*For a thinner soup don't add all of the rice and for a thicker heartier soup add it all.  The original recipe said to not add all if you planned to use for leftovers, as the rice would be mushy the next day if added to the soup (just add a bit of rice to each bowl and then add soup).  We did not find this to be the case at all.  It was perfect.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Autumn Sausage Veggie and Apple Sheet Pan Dinner~It's What's for Dinner

Hello everyone!  Sorry for the silence.  It seems that when I get back in a regular routine of posting, life happens.

I had several requests for this recipe after posting it on Instagram last night.  This is another fabulous one pan dish, perfect for fall.

Autumn Sausage Veggie and Apple Sheet Pan Dinner


12 oz. smoked kielbasa sausage, sliced into 1/3 inch thick slices
16 oz. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch cubes
16 oz. brussels sprouts, halved (we omitted as I am the only one who will eat them, but shouldn't due to sensitivities)
1/2 medium red onion, diced into chunks
1 TBS minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/4 C olive oil
1 tsp each dried thyme, sage and rosemary (crush rosemary)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (we use white)
2 crisp baking apples, cored and diced into 1 1/4-inch chunks
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley

***since we omitted the brussels sprouts, I added a bit more sweet potato and apple


Preheat oven to 400 degrees using roast setting (ours is convection at 350 degrees).  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (easy clean up).

In a large bowl mix sausage, sweet potatoes, onion, apples, garlic and brussels sprouts (if using).

Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the herb mixture, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Roast in preheated oven 15 minutes, then toss.  Roast another 15 minutes (or until veggies are cooked through).

Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.

Adapted from a Cooking Classy recipe.

Enjoy!  And, Happy Fall Y'all!!!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sunday Supper~One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies

Happy Labor Day everyone!  I hope today finds you relaxing, and spending time with family and friends.

We do continue to keep South Texas in our prayers, along with all of those who have stepped in to help.   We know many families who have been affected by Harvey, several who have lost everything but what they were able to carry out.  Our church family has numerous family members in the areas affected.  We took up a special collection yesterday to help all in need, and our amazing Pastor has plans to put teams on the ground to help aid in the near future.

The one thing I am always reminded of during these times as we see fellow man coming to the aide of their neighbors is God's greatest commandment to Love One Another.  Not just in times of disaster, hurt and need.  Not just those we know and love.  But ALWAYS and ALL.  I personally need to work on that.

We tried a new one pan recipe last night, and after posting pictures on Instagram I had a lot of requests for the recipe.

This is perfect dish for a night where you are short on time, yet want to put a hearty meal on the table for your family.

One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies (adapted from a recipe found on Pinterest)


6 TBS balsamic vinegar
1/2 C Italian Dressing (we used Ken's new Simply Vinaigrette)
2 double chicken breasts
1 package of fresh broccoli florets (we purchased at Trader Joes, you could cut up a head, but this saves times)
1 C baby carrots
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
3 TBS olive oil (plus more to toss veggies in)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (we used the roast option on our convection at 300 degrees).  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (easy clean up).

2. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar and Italian dressing.

3. Trim your chicken breasts.

4. Place your chicken breasts in a large Ziploc bag.  Pour the balsamic vinegar and Italian dressing mixture over the top.  Remove the air and zip shut.  Be sure to cover all of the breasts.  Let marinate in the frig for at least 30 minutes (or up to 6 hours).

5. In a large bowl, combine the broccoli florets, baby carrots and cherry tomatoes.  Drizzle with  enough olive oil to coat.  Add the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt and pepper (to taste).  Toss, making sure to coat all of the vegetables.

6. Take you chicken breasts and place them on the parchment lined baking sheet.

7.  Place veggies around the breasts.

8. Pour remaining marinade over the chicken and veggies.

9.  Bake for 30 minutes or until your chicken is cooked through.  Times will vary depending on your oven and setting, and the size of your chicken breasts.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Because you asked~Muscle Packing Meatloaf

I know, a month of no recipes from moi and now you get three in a row!  Y'all know we love to cook and experiment.  This is one I pulled out of the archives.  However, I don't think I have ever shared it on the blog before.

This is a "sneak the veggies in when the hubs and kids are looking" recipe ;-)

Muscle Packing Meatloaf (Devin Alexander)


Olive oil spray
2/3 C old fashioned oats (we used gluten free instant and it worked just fine)
1/2 C fat free milk (we use flax milk)
1 egg white, lightly beaten (you can use an egg replacer such as Ener G, personally you'll be fine omitting entirely it's that moist)
1 1/2 TBS Worcestershire (be sure it's gluten free)
1/2 C minced carrots
1/3 C minced green onion
1/4 C finely chopped flat leaf parsley (out of the garden)
1-2 TBS seeded, minced green jalapeño pepper, to taste (we used two small out of the garden)
1 medium garlic clove, minced (y'all I swear by the jar)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb 90/10 lean ground beef (grass fed is best)
1/3 C ketchup


Preheat oven to 350*. Spray a standard non-stick loaf pan with spray.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the milk and oats. Let them sit for 3 minutes or until the oats are softened. Add the egg whites followed by the Worcestershire, carrots, green onion, parsley, jalapeño, garlic and salt.  Mix them well.
Add the beef and mix them until well combined.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread it so that the top is flat.  Spread the ketchup evenly over the top.  Bake the meatloaf for 30 minutes or until no longer pink inside (we normally cook 40 minutes in our oven).  Remove it from the oven and let it sit 10 minutes.  Slice and serve.

We served mashed potatoes alongside (vegan butter).  Hubby's favorite!


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What's for Dinner Wednesday~Cilantro-Lime Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Jalapeño Salsa

Wow! I posted a pic of this one on Instagram and Facebook, and so many begged for the recipe.  Y'all know I am not one to keep a good recipe to myself ;-)

Cilantro-Lime Grilled Chicken with Strawberry-Jalapeño


2 limes, zested and juiced
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp honey
1/2 C fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
4 thinly sliced boneless chicken breasts (you can also butterfly regular chicken breasts and pound thin)
Kosher Salt
Coarse Black Pepper (we use white since I cannot have black)

For the Strawberry-Jalapeño Salsa:

2 C diced strawberries
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 C plus 1 TBS minced red onion
1 1/2 TBS finely chopped cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced
Kosher Salt


1. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the lime zest, lime juice, olive oil, honey and cilantro with a pinch of salt.  Briefly set aside.
2. If you are not using chicken cutlets, place each breast between plastic wrap or wax paper and pound thin using a meat tenderizer or rolling pin.
3. Place the pounded chicken breasts into a large Ziploc bag, pour the marinade over, seal and smoosh to be sure all the breasts are evenly coated. Marinate for at least 20 minutes, the longer the better.
4. While your chicken is marinating, place all the ingredients for the salsa in a medium bowl.  Gently mix the ingredients with a fork (you don't want to smoosh your strawberries), and season with salt to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Heat a clean, lightly oiled grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.  Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and pat them dry.  Season both sides of each breast with kosher salt and coarse black pepper.
6. When the grill/grill pan is hot, add the chicken and cook for about 3 1/2 minutes per side until grill marks appear and chicken is just cooked through.
7. Remove chicken to a plate and serve with strawberry-jalapeño salsa.

We served green beans as the side.

Y'all this salsa would be amazing by itself served with a big bowl of tortilla chips!

Monday, August 21, 2017

I'm back with What's for Dinner~Classic Risotto Milanese

Hello.  Anyone out there?  I had not intended to take such a long break, but it happens. Anyone else feel like this summer just flew by? While I am not one to wish away time, I am honestly ready for cooler temperatures and the yummy scents of fall.  I may or may not already be burning the most scrumptious Salted Caramel candle.  So good.  I hosted Bunco last week at our home, and the minute my girlfriends walked in the door they commented how good the house smelled and wanted to know what was for dessert.  Sorry to disappoint ladies, that yummy smell was from the candle and I prepared healthy berries with honey lime drizzle for dessert. LOL

I had several friends ask for this recipe after I posted it on Facebook and Instagram last night.  As you all know I try to throw in one meatless dish a week, and other nights we rotate our protein.  This did not disappoint and #2 had leftovers for lunch.

Classic Risotto Milanese


5 C unsalted chicken stock (we use Kitchen Basics brand)
1 1/2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 C diced onion
1 1/2 C uncooked Arborio rice
5/8 tsp kosher salt (guess my friends ;-)
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crushed (be forewarned saffron is the priciest herb out there)
1/2 C dry white wine
1 TBS butter (we use vegan)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1.5 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup) (we used Go Veggie Vegan)
2 TBS chopped flat-leaf parsley (fresh from the garden)


1. Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan (do not boil).  Keep warm over low heat.
2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add rice, salt, and saffron; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.  Stir in 1 1/2 cups stock; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.  Add remaining stock, 3/4 cup at a time, stirring nearly constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (about 22 minutes total); reserve 1/3 cup stock at last addition.  Remove pan from heat.  Stir in reserved 1/3 cup stock, butter, pepper, and cheese. Top with parsley.

For a bit heartier meal we steamed some frozen asparagus cut into bite size pieces and added in during the last few minutes of cooking.  You could also use broccoli as well.

This is a heart meal in itself, but could also be served as a side dish.

Tonight we are cooking up a new Cilantro Lime Chicken dish with Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa..


Friday, July 21, 2017

Gumbo Love Review~Easy -Breezy Island Shrimp Curry

Hello friends, and happy Friday!

I was contacted by the publicity manager of Gumbo Love recently, and was asked if I would like to receive a copy of the cookbook to review.  Y'all know me well enough by now to know that if it has anything to do with food, cooking or a cookbook, I am ALL in.  Add in the fact that the author is none other than Lucy Buffett, Jimmy Buffet's sister, and I was prepared for it to be 5 o'clock somewhere and ready to get cooking in the kitchen.

Although I received a copy of the book for review, all opinions expressed are that of my own.

I was immediately drawn in by the cover of this gorgeous cookbook.

Image Credit:  Angie Mosier

A brief description of the book.

A delicious love letter to the Gulf Coast's vibrant food culture, by Jimmy Buffett's sister and owner of two beloved destination restaurants in Alabama and Florida. 
Incorporating Caribbean, Cajun, Cuban, Mexican, Old Florida, and Creole influences, Lucy proves through her collection of recipes that the Gulf Coast has its own distinct flavors and traditions that make it a destination year after year. Surviving hurricanes, the Gulf Coast—beyond just New Orleans—has a vibrant food and culture that's gone largely unnoticed. Lucy wants to change that by sharing her food and stories with GUMBO LOVE readers.
Like her brother, Jimmy, Lucy celebrates freedom, relaxation, and seaside decadence in her own art--cooking, and has now written the cookbook her fans have been asking her for; one that offers the recipes she's famous for, along with Gulf Coast classics and stories of growing up in Mobile, Alabama, working in New Orleans, and her philosophy of relaxation, gratitude, and enjoyment.
Lucy combines over one hundred new recipes with old favorites. Her fans will find recipes for their social occasions including gumbos, main dishes, deep fried favorites (with her easy frying tutorial), salads, seasonings, libations, and desserts. They will also learn how Lucy navigates the kitchen, her business, and her family and readers will come away with the basic ingredients of an inspiring life philosophy. 

Image Credit:  Chandler Williams of Modus Photography
A bit about the author.

Lucy "LuLu" Buffett cooked her way from coast to coast before returning home to Alabama to open a modest little bayside gumbo and burger joint that doubled as a bait shop. Now, she is the successful restaurateur of two locations of LuLu's in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Destin, Florida, where she serves over a million guests a year. Her adventures-culinary and otherwise-inspired her to write LuLu's Kitchen (formerly self-published as Crazy Sista Cooking), and now Gumbo Love.
Moments spent at LuLu's keep me connected to where I came from. I can drop my anchor in a booth by the water and savor a bowl of gumbo; for me there is more than fresh crabmeat, oysters, okra, shrimp, and filé powder in that bowl. It contains the faces and memories of friends, family, and events that remind me of the child of the coast that I was and hope to always be. In this book, LuLu has gotten it all down on paper, with great recipes for food that comes with history.
Jimmy Buffett
If this book wasn't any good, I'd have to lie about it because Lucy Buffett is my sister-in-law. But I am spared that pain by the glories Lucy brings to kitchen and table and, between the lines, a vision of the good life with all its highs and lows and more than occasional joys. If Woody Allen says life is about showing up, Lucy Buffett says hurl yourself into it. This book is a road map to good times.
Thomas McGuane

My #2 saw the cookbook sitting on the counter after it arrived and exclaimed, "I've eaten at her restaurant in Alabama" and just raved about the shrimp tacos!  Turns out she and her girlfriends ate there while taking a break from grad school.   Now she was ALL in too.

I was given the recipe for a scrumptious Classic Southern Poundcake to share with my readers, but in the end due to our dietary restrictions we decided to make another scrumptious dish from the cookbook to share with you all. I know many shy away from cookbooks due to dietary restrictions, but as I have shown you all in the past and again with this recipe, most can be easily adapted to suit your needs.  The only substitution we had to make was using vegan butter.

Easy-Breezy Island Shrimp Curry~It's What's for Dinner

Serves 8


2 tablespoons unsalted butter (we use vegan)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped seeded jalapéno (or leave the seeds in for more heat)
1 tablespoon red or green curry paste (we used red)
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
2 1/2 pounds, medium wild-caught Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, halved or cut into wedges, for serving

Suggested sides: Cuban Yellow Rice (recipe available in the cookbook) or spinach.  We chose spinach, as my #2 has a sensitivity to tumeric, commonly found in Spanish rice.


1. In a small stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic, ginger, and jalapéno and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the curry paste and fish sauce.

3. Add the broth and coconut milk.  Stir to combine and bring the ingredients to a simmer.

4. Add the shrimp to the stockpot.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.

5.  Once the shrimp are cooked through, remove the pot from the heat.  Add the cilantro, salt, and pepper to taste.  Squeeze the juice from the limes over the shrimp.

6. Serve over yellow rice or spinach, if desired, with a side of crusty bread to soak up the yummy curry sauce. 

To cook the spinach, I just added a bit of olive oil to a large frying pan with a bit of minced garlic.  Add the spinach, and cook stirring frequently until it is wilted.  Spinach cooks down quite a bit, so keep that in mind when determining the amount needed for portion sizes.

The shrimp cooking in the yummy curry sauce.

And the finished dish.

If you are looking for a quick and easy summertime dish, this can't be beat!  It was delicious.

The cookbook is a wonderful combination of Lucy's amazing recipes (the girl starts off with dessert, what's not to love?) and her stories of her adventures throughout the years.  

I highly recommend picking up a copy of your own.  I have already purchased a few as gifts for friends.

Enjoy my friends!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Summer Side Dish~Peppered Candied Bacon and Asparagus, Paleo, Gluten Free

Happy Thursday friends!  Today I am back with another recipe chosen for the meal plan this week by #2.  This time it's a side dish.  She didn't have to do much arm twisting to get us to try this one.  I mean, who doesn't love bacon? and if you don't I don't won't to know

Peppered Candied Bacon and Asparagus


4-5 pieces of uncured nitrate free peppered bacon (keep 1 TBS of the rendered bacon fat for cooking)
1 TBS or more of coconut sugar (divided)
1 bunch of large asparagus (about 15-20 spears)
1 shallot (sliced)
1/4 tsp each sea salt/black pepper
1 tsp or more of lemon juice (optional but brings out the flavors!)


1. Preheat oven to 400*F.  Lining a baking pan with foil.

2. Place 4-5 pieces of uncured smoked or regular peppered bacon on baking tray.

3. Sprinkle with 1/2 to 3/4 TBS of coconut sugar.  Make sure it's evenly distributed on bacon.

4. Bake on bottom rack for 15-18 minutes.

5. Remove from oven.  The longer the crispier.  You can easily do this in the microwave too if you are short on time.

6. Spoon 1-2 TBS of the bacon juice into a bowl.  Let it sit for later use.

7. Once bacon is somewhat cooled, chop it into small pieces.  Set aside.

8. Next clean your asparagus and trim bottom stems.

9. Slice your shallot lengthwise.

10.  Place the bacon fat in a large skillet on medium heat.

11. Add in your asparagus, shallot, pepper, sea salt, and a little more coconut sugar if desired.

12. Saute veggies for about 10 minutes or until asparagus is more golden and only slightly crispy on the ends. (time with vary depending on the thickness of your spears)

13.  Remove from heat.

14. Place asparagus in a serving dish and add your candied bacon bits.

15.  Spoon any extra juice from the skillet over the asparagus/shallots/bacon.

16.  Feel free to add more pepper/lemon/salt here if desired.

This was a tasty side that would be perfect with any number of proteins.  We chose to serve along beef filets.


*original recipe can be found here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Another Pick by #2~Easy Seafood Paella

Y'all #2 has picked some amazing recipes for us to try this week.  Again another quick and easy dish, but full of flavor.

As you know, I am a fan of a ONE dish meal.  This actually takes two because you boil the lobster separate and need to save the water, but the rest goes in one pan.

Easy Seafood Paella


4 small lobster tails (6-12 oz each)  ***Kroger had the frozen on sale this week.  You could sub jumbo lump crab as well.
3 TBS olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 C Spanish rice or short grain rice, soaked in water for 15 minutes and then drained (we used Arborito)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large pinches of Spanish saffron threads soaked in 1/2 cup water
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp aleppo pepper flakes (we used crushed red pepper flakes)
2 large Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
6 oz French green beans (we trimmed and cut in half)
1 lb prawns or large shrimp or your choice, peeled and deveined
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley


1. In a large pot, bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil.  Add the lobster tails and let boil very briefly (1-2 minutes) until pink. ***a bit longer if still frozen Turn the heat off. Remove the lobster tails with a pair of tongs.  Do not discard the lobster cooking water. When the lobster is cool enough to handle, remove the shell and cut into large chunks.
2. In a large deep pan or skillet, heat 3 TBS olive oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the chopped onions.  Saute the onions for 2 minutes then add the rice, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring regularly.  Now add the chopped garlic and the lobster cooking water. Stir in the saffron and it's soaking liquid, paprika, cayenne pepper, aleppo pepper, and salt. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and green beans.  Bring to a boil and let the liquid slightly reduce, then cover (with lid or tightly with foil) and cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
3. Uncover and spread the shrimp over the rice, pushing it into the rice slightly.  Add a little water if needed.  Cover and cook another 10-15 minutes until the shrimp turns pink. Finally, add the cooked lobster chunks.  When the lobster is warmed through, turn heat off.  Garnish with parsley.
4. Serve the paella hot with your favorite white wine.

Original recipe can be found here.

While the original recipe says it serves 4, this makes enough for double that in my opinion.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

#2 Meal Plans~Pan-Seared Tilapia in Tomato Basil Sauce

I am back today with what I believe is one of the best dishes we have made in the past few weeks.  #2 created the meal plan this week, and I can't wait to share some new to us and to you dishes.

I think what truly made this dish was the fact that the tomatoes, jalapeno and basil all came fresh from our backyard garden.  Nothing better than homegrown in my opinion.

Pan-Seared Tilapia in Tomato Basil Sauce


For the Tilapia:

2 TBS oil oil
1 1/2 pounds fresh tilapia, cut into 3-4 fillets
Salt and pepper

For the Tomato Basil Sauce:

2 TBS olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional, we used)
2 or 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small jalapeno, sliced
1/4 C vegetable stock
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
salt and fresh ground black pepper


For the Tomato Basil Sauce:

1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add crushed red pepper flakes and garlic and saute for 1 minute, or until garlic is fragrant.

2. Add the cherry tomatoes and jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, until they're soft and blistering, but still hold their shape, about 12 minutes.  Add in the vegetable stock, stir, allow the mixture to come to a light simmer.

3. Stir in the basil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the sauce into a large bowl and set aside for later.

For the Tilapia:

1. Heat oil in the same pan over medium heat. Season both sides of fish with salt and pepper.  Place tilapia fillets in the oil and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes on both sides, until it's cooked through.

2. Pour the tomato basil sauce over the fish and reheat quickly.  Serve all at once with additional chopped basil.

We served alongside rice.

Y'all the fish is melt in your mouth good.  And, the freshness of the homegrown herbs and veggies just elevates this dish even more.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles~It's What's For Dinner

Hello, and happy late Monday.  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  We spent a good bit of it doing yard work.  All this rain has created some major drainage problems we are trying to correct.

Today I thought I'd share a quick and easy recipe with you.  This is a dish that once prepped (the time consuming part) comes together quickly.

Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles


12 oz spaghetti (we use gluten free)
1 large red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips then cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced into thin strips then cut into 2-inch pieces
1 C matchstick carrots
3/4 C chopped green onions
1/2 C chopped cilantro
1/2 C lightly salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
Sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Peanut Sauce:

1/2 C creamy peanut butter
1/4 C warm water
3 TBS soy sauce (we used coconut aminos)
2 TBS honey
2 TBS Sriracha (more of less to taste)
2 TBS fresh lime juice
1 1/2 TBS peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS sesame oil (we used canola as I cannot have sesame)


Cook spaghetti according to directions listed on package.  Meanwhile prepare peanut sauce by combining all sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl, whisking until well blended and smooth.

I like to prep everything ahead of time as seen below.

Drain pasta and pour into a large serving bowl.  Toss with sauce then add bell pepper, cucumber, green onions, cilantro and peanuts and toss lightly.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Original recipe can be found here.

Super tasty and easy. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A "Poppin" 4th with Skinnypop Popcorn~

Hello friends.  Happy day after 4th of July.  I pray everyone had a safe and fun holiday.  In typical Atlanta fashion, it rained on and off all day.  Boo.  But, that didn't stop us from having a little fun on our covered porch.

I was recently contacted by the Outreach Coordinator for Skinnypop Popcorn. They have put together a great list of cocktail and popcorn pairings to enjoy this summer.  Most of you know, we love our popcorn!  I couldn't pass up an opportunity to share a brand that we have come to love with my readers.

Please note, I am in no way being compensated for this post.  All opinions are that of my own.

What I love most about the brand is their packaging.  When selecting a bag you know exactly what you are getting.  No hidden ingredients, nothing I can't pronounce.

Dairy Free (in the case of their White Cheddar popcorn, a win for this dairy free family)
Gluten Free
Peanut Free
Tree Nut Free
Preservative Free
No Artificial Flavors
Zero Trans Fat

How fun are these simple pairings? Moscow Mule/Original, Blueberry Mojito/Sea Salt & Pepper, Blackberry Smash/Aged White Cheddar/Dairy Free White Cheddar, White Peach Sangria/Naturally Sweet, Coconut Margarita/ Pepper Jack/Jalapenó.

We decided to get a little creative ourselves.  We were thrilled to learn that Skinnypop White Cheddar Popcorn is dairy free.  And Rosé wine is so hot now.  So, why not combine the two?  Who doesn't love wine and cheese?

The table setting came together quickly with things I already had around the house.  I will share the recipe for the Rosé Lemonade at the end of the post.  The perfect cocktail for a hot humid summer day.

To anchor the table setting I used my galvanized tray and lanterns from Target.  For the centerpiece I used a small white pitcher from Home Goods that I tied a bit of red, white and blue ribbon around and filled with inexpensive carnations from Trader Joes.  The blue and white J napkins were a gift from a girlfriend.  We had blue Solo cups on hand as well as the red and white striped paper straws.  My #2 created the "Have a Poppin' 4th of July" flags on her computer for me.  We attached them to the straws with a bit of double stick tape.  The red and white popcorn bucket is an old Target dollar section find we use for movie nights. My go to glass pitcher and wine glasses finished it off. Y'all we pulled this off in 20 minutes.  

The Solo cups filled with the White Cheddar popcorn are the perfect portion size, and the cute little flags just add a festive touch.  This could be done with any number of the colored cups available for a variety of holidays.  Think the Naturally Sweet popcorn in red Solo cups with a bit of red, white and pink sprinkles on top.  Attach one of those yummy cinnamon gummy hearts to the straws and you've created a fun, sweet treat in no time.

I just loved the blush pink color of the Rosé Lemonade.  Sliced lemons in the pitcher and on the rim of the glasses just scream summertime. 

A closer look at the darling flags #2 designed for the occasion. 

A centerpiece doesn't have to break the bank.  These sweet carnations were under $5, and will last a few weeks.

Rosé Lemonade (original recipe found on kitchn)

Makes 8 servings

1 (750-milliliter) bottle dry rosé wine
3 cups lemonade (we used Real Time lemon juice-1 C juice, 1 C sugar, 6 1/2 Cups Water)
1 medium lemon, sliced (I used two so we could rim the glasses)
1 (12-ounce) can club soda

Combine the rosé, lemonade, and lemon slices in a large pitcher filled with ice.  Top with club soda.  Pour into 8 glasses, adding ice from the pitcher to each glass as needed.

***This recipe could easily be doubled to fill a drink dispenser making serving a breeze for a larger gathering.

I hope this will inspire you to try the many Skinnypop flavors that are available, and maybe create your own cocktail to go with it.

***photo credit goes to my talented #2

Friday, June 30, 2017

A Recipe for the 4th~Sweet and Spicy Coca-Cola Chicken

Since we've been on a roll with summertime dinners, I figured I might as well round out the week with another "perfect for summer" recipe.  This one would be perfect for the 4th!

Sweet and Spicy Coca-Cola Chicken

***this recipe was originally for wings, but we chose to use chicken breasts.


2 double chicken breasts (or however many you need, you'll have plenty of sauce!)


1 1/2 cups Coca-Cola (if using the bottles, it'll take a little more than one)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup tomato paste (1 small can will do it)
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup red pepper hot sauce (like cayenne or tabasco pepper sauce, we used Texas Pete's)
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika (regular will work if that's all you have on hand)
1 teaspoon kosher salt


Trim excess fat from your chicken breasts.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place chicken on the baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Reduce your oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Baste the chicken with the sauce, and back an additional 7 minutes.

***NOTE:  these could easily be done on the grill as well.

We served alongside Bush's new Sriracha baked beans.  The perfect combo!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Chili Orange Glazed Short Ribs~It's What's for Dinner

Now that #2 has started to work full-time after a bit of time off after graduation, we have gone back to our weekly meal planning.  It's always nice to know what's for dinner and that the ingredients needed are already on hand. And the leftovers make great home-cooked meals for her to take for lunch the next day.

Our chili pepper plant has produced quite a bit of peppers due to all the rain we have had.  Hubby was craving short ribs, so I searched for a recipe that would combine the two.  I stumbled upon this one on Pinterest.  Add in the oranges and it was perfect for summer.

Chili Orange Glazed Short Ribs

While cooking, the colors and smell are amazing!


3.5 lbs short ribs
olive oil
kosher salt
1 C orange juice, no pulp
1 C beef broth (I used stock because I had it on hand in the 1 C boxes)
1 C water
1 large orange, cut into about 8 wedges
5 cloves (original recipe, I put 5 cloves in each orange wedge as that seemed more like it)
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3-4 red chilis (adjust up or down depending on how hot you like it, we used 3)
3 cloves garlic
1/3 C basil, cut into ribbons (from the garden as well)
1 large knob ginger, sliced

Garnish (this is optional in my opinion, I would garnish if serving to company for presentation)
2-3 scallions, cut into rings
1-2 red chilis, sliced into sticks
1 large orange, cut into about 8 slices
1/4 C basil, cut into ribbons


1. Sear the short ribs.  Drizzle a little olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot (we love our Staub Dutch oven for this) and set it on the stove over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the ribs with a little salt, and toss them in the pot when the oil is hot.  When they are nice and brown on one side, flip them over. Get all the sides, even the ends.  (I did this in two batches)

2. While the ribs are searing, cut up your orange and stick the cloves into the rind like little nails.

3. Simmer the short ribs:  When all your ribs are seared, toss them all back in the pot.  Add the orange juice, beef broth, water, orange studded with cloves, onion, chilis, garlic, basil, and ginger. Give the pot a stir as much as you can. Bring the liquid up to a boil over high heat.  Knock the heat down so that the liquid just holds a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 3-3.5 hours, stirring occasionally.

4. They're done when the meat comes away from the bone easily with a fork.

5.  Strain the broth:  Remove the ribs from the pot with tongs and tuck away on a plate for a minute.  Strain the cooking liquid, discarding the solids.   Skim the fat off the broth and discard.

6. Reduce the broth:  Toss the broth back in your pot, and boil, uncovered, over high heat until it's reduced by about half.  Taste as you go, toss in a little salt, etc., to suit your taste.

7.  Arrange your short ribs on a serving platter.  Add the reduced broth.  Sprinkle with scallions, basil, cut hot peppers.  Nestle the orange slices around the platter.  Serve and enjoy!

***Notes:  I found it easier to prep all my ingredients prior to searing the ribs.  Once the ribs were seared it was easy to just throw the rest in.  And as I mentioned, step #7 is optional. I just plated the ribs and put the broth in a gravy boat.

and done.  

We served alongside rice.

Y'all these are melt in your mouth good!!!  The orange and hint of clove would make this a great fall dish as well.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Dishes~Zesty Spaghetti Salad

Good morning!  The rain is finally behind us, and we have had a couple of gorgeous sunny days with a bit of a breeze. The perfect way to start summer.

Today I thought I'd share another easy summer recipe with you.

Zesty Spaghetti Salad


12 oz spaghetti noodles (we used gluten free)
12 oz bottle Zesty Italian dressing (we used Kraft)
1 tomato, chopped (fresh from the garden)
2 green onions, chopped
1 small can chopped black olives
1 tsp. sugar
2 TBS Mrs. Dash Original Blend Seasoning
1 TBS dried onion flakes
1 C freshly shredded Parmesan cheese (we subbed a bit of vegan Mozzarella and vegan grated Parm)
1/2 C chopped pepperoni (we used Boar's Head)


1. In a large pot of water (heavily salted) brought to a boil, cook the spaghetti noodles as directed.
2. Add the cooked spaghetti to a large serving bowl.  Pour the dressing over the noodles a little at a time (it does soak it up, but you may find you don't need it all) and toss to coat.
3. Add in the remaining ingredients; tomato, black olives, green onion, sugar, seasoning blend, onion flakes, cheese and pepperoni.  Toss again.
4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  (it will stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days, great for leftovers for lunch the next day)


Monday, June 26, 2017

BLT Pasta Salad~the perfect summertime salad

Hello everyone!  I pray each of you had a wonderful weekend.  The sun is FINALLY out here, and this girl could not be happier.

Today I thought I would share a quick and easy summer time salad with you.  This can be served as the main course or as a side dish.

BLT Pasta Salad


2 1/2 cups uncooked bow tie pasta (we used Jovial Brown Rice)
6 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 medium tomato, diced (love using fresh from our garden)
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (we used pre-cooked to save time)
1/2 cup ranch dressing (recipe to follow)
1 TBS barbecue sauce
1/4 tsp pepper


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.  Then rinse pasta under cold water.
2. In a large bowl, combine romaine lettuce, tomato, back and pasta.
3. Drizzle the ranch dressing and barbecue sauce over the top.  Gently toss to coat evenly. Season with pepper.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Homemade Ranch Dressing (gluten free, vegan, dairy free)

1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp dried thyme

Mix the spices with 1 cup vegan mayonaise, 1 cup dairy free milk and 1 tsp vinegar (this takes the place of buttermilk).  I combined all in a mason jar and gave it a good shake.

The dressing was a bit thin, but worked fine on the salad.  Next time I will probably cut the milk/vinegar in half to thicken it up.

I'll have another cold pasta recipe to share with you later in the week.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Rain and Summertime Blooms~

Y'all we have had some serious rain here in Atlanta lately. While I do not care for the strong thunderstorms we've experienced most recently, the rain has everything so lush and green this year.

I thought I'd share a few backyard pictures with you today.

Our hydrangeas are huge this year, and the colors so vibrant.

Love the deep crimson and yellow combo of the daylillies.

Our pots started out with just tiny plants and are now full and overflowing.  Potato vine is one of my favorites as it really does well here.

The petunias are gonna need a clip soon as they are getting a little "leggy".

Our Koi just keep getting bigger.  And yes, that would be fishing line across the pond.  We are in close proximity to the Chattahoochee River and the Heron love our Koi!

As I mentioned in an earlier post this week, our herb garden has really benefited from all the rain we've had.  Our sage plants are enormous.

This was our herb garden back in March.

And now.

And, knock out roses are always a win here in the hot south.

Our cherry tomato plant is huge this year as well.  We have already enjoyed handfuls of them.

And, this is my new favorite spot to enjoy it all.  This is the swing #1 built for us for Christmas.

I hope you can get out and enjoy a bit of nature this weekend.